Be aware of seasonal crime
There have reportedly been over 20 shopping mall robberies countrywide since early September, a worrying statistic at a time when most of us will be hitting the shops for festive season gift-buying sessions. So we thought it would be worth repeating our top ten tips for safe shopping, with some updates for you.
Shopping safety tips for malls and the web
1. Avoid secluded, dangerous areas. Park in a well-lit part of the centre and check what’s going on around you before getting out. If you’re on foot, keep away from dark, quiet areas.
2. Know where you can find help. The SA Council of Shopping Centres is getting together with the SAPS to find ways of combating organised crime targeting shopping centres, but in the mean time make sure you know where help is by checking on where uniformed security staff members patrol in case you need them in a hurry.
3. Have a safety plan for kids. When you arrive at the mall, point out the security staff and tell them to ask only these people for help if they lose you. Make sure they know your cell phone number so that security can call you.
4. Prevent car jamming. Check that your car is locked before walking off and try the door handle to make sure.
5. Handbag safety starts with you. Use a sling bag across your body and keep it zipped up, especially in a crowd where pick pockets thrive on careless shoppers. Men should keep their wallet in an inside pocket not trouser pocket.
6. Cell phone security. Make sure your phone is fully charged and don’t get distracted by messages and texting because this makes you an easy target. Be careful using wi-fi in public places because some hotspots don’t encrypt wireless data and this could lead to identity theft.
7. Don’t carry too much cash. Rather use a debit or credit card, but make sure you hide your pin code entry with your free hand.
8. Be on your guard with friendly strangers. They could be scam artists taking advantage of your natural politeness. Bogus charity fund raisers multiply at this time of year, so check on their registration number before giving them anything.
9. Take parcels back to the car regularly and put them in the boot. You’ll have less to worry about and be less of a target. Don’t leave anything visible inside the car as it might lead to a smash and grab.
10. Have an emergency back-up plan. If you’re shopping with other people or children, organise a meeting point in case things go wrong, like your cell phone being stolen and no way to contact them. It could be the mall’s information desk, the car or a restaurant.
Use these tips whether home or away
Don’t forget that all these tips apply when you’re away on holiday unfortunately mall robberies don’t stop just because you’re in a different location!